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Interview with Adam Szabo (Ant on Wax)

Recently writer and critic Robert Nagle made a list of 11 Incredible Musicians You Can Download for Free . Many of the musicians on this top list make their music freely available on Jamendo, a free and legal music sharing site. Several musicians  appearing on this  list also gave interviews to this blog  (Read the other interviews).  You can also download a free sampler containing full songs from the artists profiled here .

Ant on Wax is a great Hungarian electronic composer who got started at 14 by producing music for children’s birthday parties.  The album Control is a techno danceable album with a sultry female singer named Aliem.   It’s outrageous, hyperkinetic and lots of fun.  Control features great breakbeat and dizzying speed.  Invent gives me geek orgasms. Nothing like Tomorrow is like Motown at a rave party. I ain’t easy is Praga Khan lite withantonwax cowbells and a little Stereolab frivolity.  Nothing like Tomorrow is a great dance number; Invent is an exhilarating dash to a finish line (love the geeky lyrics; what the heck do they mean?) It gives me geek orgasms whenever I hear it.

His most recent album Club & Dance contains  some great traditional tracks like Freakout and 94ers techo. The closest thing I can compare AntonWax to is the fast and exciting Fatboy Slim;  AntonWax  collaborates with several singers and does some  wild stuff with them. 123audio site contains lots of great electronic collaborations (all of which you can download for free): Lavinia Jones, various Hungarian female singers and a gypsy pop band. At the moment he is busy with Budabeat Studio in Budapest. See also this longer biographical sketch of Adam (PDF) .

Free Albums  Galore writes, “Adam Szabo aka Ant on Wax creates some of the most interesting electronic dance music I’ve heard. It is techno, sometimes down-tempo, but usually perfect for the dance floor. Yet the thing that makes it stand out is the infusion of Hungarian and Balkan influences, both pop and traditional.”

Can you talk a little about your creative process? What parts about making music are the easiest for you? What parts are the most difficult?

Usually, I start with the rhythm in the sequencer, and either I  or some musician friend with a non-synthesizer instrument jams on the rhythm  when I jam;  I usually do either chords or bass first – even before I set a rhythm.

I have a loop of the rhythm and I extend it with different instruments and effects, even inaudible stuff (so-called “ psychoacoustics”).  After  I am satisfied with the loop, I copy it to different positions and rework some of the loops, so that there gets more live in the electronic music. In some parts I change harmonies and then I choose one part as verse and the other as chorus.  In the end I design breaks and bridges between the different parts and effects that lead  to the next part.  That leaves only the Intro and Outro to do;   usually i use a reduced set of tracks of the chorus for those. That’s it.

How has your biography or geography affected the kind of music you make? What do you think is unique or different about the music you make?

I started listening to  music with Michael Jackson and Jean Michael Jarre. The first is pop music; the second is instrumental synthesizer music. I  like  both; like most young teenagers, I can enjoy many different styles. When I was 12,  my brother got an Amiga 500, and there I made my first steps on sequencers, so called “tracker”-music-software. Today I use professional sequencing software on  Windows,  and I am happy with the unlimited possibilities. Nowadays I also uAdam Szabo, Ant on Waxse  many  outboard equipment  like effects, compressors and  analog synthesizer.   Since I never had a knack for harmony, I decided to attend keyboard school for 2 years. That summarizes the extent of my formal musical education of  music and harmony. Of course, working in music for 20 years has expanded my musical knowledge tremendously; I have  worked with many talented musicians, taught myself a number of things and made a number of  mistakes which end up sounding wonderful.

My “musical geography”  has been pretty typical until about three years ago (I did the “normal” European music). Now that I am living in Budapest, I am absorbing many different styles, ranging  from Gypsy to Hindi to  Latvian to US music; it just depends on whatever person or project I happen to be working on.

What other musician or musicians have inspired you? Can you name someone who is not a musician who has provided inspiration for your creativity?

Early on I was especially inspired by one guy who played the guitar, (I will call him  Master Funk), and  my good friend Dan, with whom I made the first experiences on the Trackers. Later  I went to clubs and  was inspired by DJs, mainly those at  Electronic Clubmusic in Munich. Nowadays I am inspired mainly by listening Radio;  I have no TV. In general I would say every friend, every colleague, every family member, every DJ and  every worker on the street makes  sounds and is  a potential source of inspiration.

What is the most difficult part about being a musician?

The most difficult WOULD BE trying to make a living from it.  Since I am working in IT field  as System Administrator, I have a very nice hobby being musician;  even tonight  we will play in a club just few steps from my workplace… I am working  the mixer for  the band.

Music seems to be an important part of videos and film now. Have you ever imagined what kind of video or film might be perfect for your music? What is the best situation (i.e., time and place) for people to hear your music?

Usually I don’t  imagine  a video accompaniment when I listen to my own music. Once in a while, maybe a scene from a movie perhaps.  I guess people who make music videos have a special skill for thinking in images.  Since I never watched  many music videos,  I tend to reduce everything to a series of tracks and notes; these are my pictures.

Where is the best place to hear my music? I remember something a friend of mine said when I asked about the quality of the mixdown A and B.  I asked him to listen  to the mastering of each version and asked him which version sounded better.  He replied:   If people are at home listening to your vacuum while vacuuming, they will not even notice  those differences. So  perhaps that’s the perfect moment for hearing my music: while vacuuming!

Can you think of one event in your life which caused you to decide to “become serious” about music?

Sorry, am I serious about music? Isn’t it supposed to be a hobby?  The fact that I run a studio in the basement  with a control room and three recording rooms makes me wonder sometimes, but I am not yet serious enough I guess. I am hardly using this benefit of owning a studio. I am thinking now about establishing a company and hiring an engineer and renting the studio to musicians… I guess then it will be serious, but until now – it’s just fun.

In what ways do musical people look at the world differently from nonmusical people?
i can’t say, that there is a difference, for me i have friends in both fields and all of them are good.

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